Note: This review is from the 2018 Fringe

The Delightful Sausage serve up a tasty comedy brunch down here in the Monkey Barrel basement. The duo of Amy Gledhill and Chris Cantrill combine live sketch and video clips into a barmy comedy fantasia on small-town life.

We’re gathered here as inhabitants of Icklewick, a Royston Vasey-ish place in the North, which is bidding to do a Hull and become city of culture. A handsome animated information video introduces us to Icklewick history, including its girthsome Quaker founder and its proud industrial heritage, while ad breaks for Hale & Plaice fish and chip shop and Jerry’s Bric-n-Brac Shack (Est. after the divorce) remind us that Icklewick probably isn’t a place that’ll be scooping any cultural awards in a hurry.

This “by eck”-y Northern base gives the pair the opportunity to follow some very loose threads into daft places, such as Icklewick’s national park where Gledhill’s Red Riding Hood character meets a hideous monster called Mr Tinnitus, played by Cantrill. Surreal is the word this will get tagged with, but, aforementioned scene aside, on the whole it’s much more grounded than that. The humour’s as much in standard well-crafted lines as in the elaborate costumery and flights of fancy (and in the case of Tinnitus, it *is* very elaborate.) It’s quite knowing when it needs to be too. At one point, Gledhill drops out of character to ask Cantrill if he’s been re-watching the Mighty Boosh.

Gledhill has a marvellous way of wrongfooting you with her delivery. There’s a regular supply of funny mispronunciations and malapropisms and sentences left hanging at comical moments. Despite being dressed as a giant sausage, she’s marginally the more sensible one. Cantrill gets to play to the crowd more with winks and side glances, sometimes laddy, sometimes camp.

Another regular route to laughs is the use of “Sharon” on the front row as a comedy punchbag, the poor audience member finding herself on the receiving end of a one-sided dialogue that’s attributing her with all manner of embarrassing characteristics, like the need for a fresh pair of knickers. The characterisation of this imagined woman is something out of Victoria Wood or Alan Bennett.

It’s possible to trace other old school Northern comedy heritage in here too – a hint of League of Gentlemen, or even some Shuttleworth DNA. But it’s also very now, with a lot of humour playing with gender and sexual politics, including gags about sexual consent (with Bobby Davro) and Gledhill getting feminism wrong.

There’s a few remnants kicking around of material they’ve either cut or forgotten, or that maybe played a bigger role when they were first conceived. An extra run through and sense check wouldn’t go amiss. This early show also feels full of friends of the pair. There’s an in-jokey casualness about some parts that make it hard to tell how they’ll normally hit. But small-town culture will always be ripe for material and this freshened-up 2010s variety has a lot of appeal.